Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)

Legislation briefing

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) deals with the powers and duties of the police, persons in police detention, criminal evidence, police discipline and complaints against the police.

It provides for arrangements for obtaining the views of the community on policing and for a rank of deputy chief constable; and amends the law relating to the Police Federations and Police Forces and Police Cadets in Scotland. IT professionals need to be aware of these powers when the police are undertaking investigations into alleged criminal use of systems and networks.

Police powers

Cyber Crime Security, PACEPACE and the PACE Codes of Practice provide the core framework of police powers and safeguards around stop and search, arrest, detention, investigation, identification and interviewing detainees.

Organisations using digital systems and networks need to be aware of PACE powers during criminal investigations against alleged offences, such as theft or use of illegal software.

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Section 17

Section 17 permits a constable to enter and search any premises for the purpose of arresting a person for an arrestable offence.

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Section 18

Section 18 permits a constable to enter and search any premises occupied or controlled by a person who is under arrest for an arrestable offence if he has reasonable grounds for suspecting there is on the premises, other than items subject to legal privilege, that relates to that offence or some other arrestable offence connected with or similar to that offence.

A constable may conduct such a search before taking the person to a police station and without the written authority of an other inspector rank or above if the presence of that person at a place other than a police station is necessary for the effective investigation of that offence. The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 section 1,2,3 and 4 and Trade Marks Act 1994 section 92 are arrestable offences.

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Section 19

Under section 19 when a constable is lawfully on any premises he can seize anything which he finds on the premises if he has reasonable grounds for believing:

(i) that it has been obtained in consequence of the commission of an offence; or

(ii) that it is evidence in relation to an offence which he is investigating or any other offence; And

(iii) that it is necessary to seize it in order to prevent it being concealed, lost, damaged, altered or destroyed.

This also applies to information contained in a computer and he can take away hard-copy print cuts of such information. Section 20.

Powers of arrest

S24 allows a constable to arrest anyone who is about to commit, is in the act of committing or has committed an offence. A constable may also arrest a person whom he reasonably suspects is about to commit, is committing or has committed an offence.

However the power of arrest is only exercisable if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the arrest is necessary in accordance with specified reasons as contained within s24(5)(a)-(f):

(a) to enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person’s name or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name);

(b) to enable the address of the person in question to be ascertained (as above);

(c) to prevent the person in question-

(i) causing physical injury to himself or any other person; (ii) suffering physical injury; (iii) causing loss of or damage to property; (iv) committing an offence against public decency; or (v) causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway;

(d) to protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question;

(e) to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question;

(f) to prevent any prosecution for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.

Reference

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)

UK/1984/C/60